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Thursday, March 06, 2008

A simple guide for making money

Blizzard designed World of Warcraft so you will earn enough money by playing the game normally. You can easily afford to train skills, buy the odd item off the Auction House by simply doing your quests. However, most of us like the feeling of money in our pocket and there are expenses that you cannot cover normally. Think of the first big milestone in your World of Warcraft career, the mount at level 40. You need to supplement your regular earnings a bit to cover this.

Play the game:
So, on a simple level - how do you make money? Play the game. At various levels you will be earning enough money to get what you need. While it might seem silly when you are getting 8 copper per wolf in Loch Modan, by the time you hit later zones it will be a handful of silver or more. So do not stare at the 8 copper you just found in that wolf's gullet in despair, you will make more money as you progress through the levels. The easiest way to make money is to play and level your character up.

Think of the riches in Outland where, as a fellow forumite said, you can sneeze and earn gold. Squabbling over 5g at level 20 makes far less sense than churning out another level that gets you closer to Outland and it's riches. I fully expect this process to repeat itself once the next expansion hits.

The Auction House:
kcma has a rather simple technique for earning a lot of money on the Auction House. I've been playing around with it for a while now and it's relatively easy even though he rarely goes into enough details for most people. Here is what you need:
A bank alt - so you can keep on playing on your main
Somebody who can disenchant - the bank alt is easiest, but it can work if your main does that
Auctioneer or a similar add-on
Around 10 minutes a day
(Optional) a mass mailbox looting mod
You will need to level the person who is disenchanting for you because certain item levels need a certain Enchanting skill to disenchant. From WowWiki they are:

Enchanting 1: 1-15
Enchanting 25: 16-20
Enchanting 50: 21-25
Enchanting 75: 26-34
Enchanting 100: 35-39
Enchanting 125: 40-44
Enchanting 150: 45-49
Enchanting 175: 50-54
Enchanting 200: 55-59
Enchanting 225: 58-63 (BC items)
Enchanting 275: 64+ (some exceptions)
Enchanting 300: 70 Epic
Your bank alt will need various levels, depending on the disenchanting skill you need.

Apprentice from level 5 allows Enchanting 1 - 75
Journeyman from level 10 allows Enchanting 50 - 150
Expert from level 20 allows Enchanting 125 - 225
Artisan from level 35 allows Enchanting 200 - 300
Master from level 50 allows Enchanting 300 - 375
So, with that in mind, how do you make money? Begin by scanning the Auction House at regular intervals. This allows you to build up a residual database of item prices and will familiarize you with what sells and what does not sell on your server.
Tip: Know your server. The Auction House is different on each one and understanding your server's economy will allow you to manipulate it.

Once you have a few scans under the belt, let's begin earning some money. What you are looking for when bidding are the following:
Items that have a bid or buyout price below what the vendor will buy it for
Items that have a bid or buyout price below the disenchant average price
Items that are used in quests
Twink items
That is mostly it. Bid on those items and bid on a lot of them. Buyout where possible. Stay away from very expensive items initially as you cannot afford to take the hit of something that does not sell. (My Boots of Zealotry, for example) Initially you will be buying all the small, level 10 to 15 green items and disenchanting them into Strange Dust. We're in luck now, because Enchanting Materials does not have a listing fee, so you can list and relist those items without losing any money. This is probably one of the major reasons why it is such an easy way to earn money.
Tip: List your items in friendly quantities. While a stack of Nether Essences are worth 60g to 80g, most casual players only want one or two. List appropriate quantities, not a full stack. This is where a knowledge of Enchanting helps but you can simply scan the recipies for more information.

Once you've gotten into a bit of a groove you will find you are likely bidding on around a hundred or more auctions at any one stage. Do not be scared of the numbers, this is where a mass mailbox looting mod helps. At the same time, you should be listing an equivalent number of items. People are always looking for enchanting materials to have their gear enchanted. Enchanters always advertise "Your mats + tips". When you are in a major city, watch the Trade Channel to see which enchants are popular. Those are the materials to try and snag, because you can resell them in enchant friendly quantities.
Tip: Reduce the time you spend running between mailbox and Auction House. For the Horde, Silvermoon's Bazaar Auction House has a mailbox right outside it. For the Alliance, Ironforge has a mailbox just across the bridge. The less time you spend running the more time you will spend earning.

A good example of this is "Essence of Fire" which drops fairly regularly off the Horrors in Felwood. You need one for a Fiery enchant, which is fairly popular. You can use your main to farm them or pick up bulk quantities in the Auction House. On my server they sell for 2.5 to 3.5g each. A stack of 10 will usually sell for approximately 10g to 15g. You can do the maths yourself and see that this is a very lucrative venture for buying a stack and splitting it, especially because it is such a popular enchantment.
Tip: Keep your bags organized. Have one bag dedicated to items you are planning on reselling, one bag for items that need to be disenchanted and one bag for items that need to be vendored. Keeping things tidy will help you when you need to log and come back later.

Now that we've covered the enchanting portion of it, let's look at quest rewards, particularly those recommended in leveling guides. The A-ME101 quest in Un'Goro crater requires a Mithril Casing. Most Mithril Casings are listed in stacks of 5 or more at a price of around 10g to 12g on my server. You don't need 5 for the quest, you need 1. As a manipulator of the Auction House you want to buy the stack of 5 for 10g and relist those 5 items at a price of 2.5g or 3g each. People who need them for the quest will buy yours, rather than spending the extra 7g and being stuck with 4 they do not need. People are lazy. Use this to your advantage. I just did this quest and my 4 casings sold within a 3 hour period, leaving me with a profit. Similar items to look out for are Frost Oil, Patterned Bronze Bracers and so forth. Be wary though - the crafters making those sometimes cotton on to the deal and will charge exorbitant prices for it.
Tip: Bid before server maintenance on Tuesdays/Wednesdays. The Auction House timers run during maintenance, so you can usually snag quite a few bargains then.

Now let's look at Twink items. Essentially, things within the upper level brackets are useful to twinks. (18-19, 28-29, 38-39, etc.) If the stats are friendly for a particular profession (Stamina and Intelligence for a Warlock, as an example) the item will automatically have a very high price. This is a dangerous market to dabble in as people will typically list them much higher than they are normally worth. However, quite a few items will open with a very low bid price despite the very high buyout price. Check the time remaining on those auctions and try to get in with a bid close to the end. If you can be online while it is due to expire you can usually snag them for a very, very low price.

As a practical example, a Skeleton Club is on the Auction House at the moment. It's initial price was 1s with a 15g buyout. Bidding has driven it up to around 15s, but even that is far below the disenchanted value. The Auction is due to close in approximately 8 hours, which will coincide roughly with when I get home. Hopefully I'll be able to snag that one to relist it for around 10g.
Tip: Item sell better over weekends when there are more buyers online. List your big ticket items over the weekend, but keep churning during the week.

The last three sections I want to cover are exclusive items, undercutting/pricing and market dominance. These are fairly important.

Exclusive Items:
People who do not spend their working days reading these forums or learning about the game will not know where to find various recipes. They might not care to know, but that is something you can take advantage of. My real world example for this is the Hawkstrider Hatchlings. You can buy them in Fairbreeze Village for 50s if you are Horde. I keep one Alt logged in there to buy them. I have another Alt logged at Booty Bay, at the Neutral Auction House. She receives the mail from Fairbreeze and lists these Hatchlings for between 2g and 4g (Depending on colour). I can typically sell four or five of these a week, which is an extra ~10g in profit for logging in twice.

Alliance players pick them up like hotcakes, because they are unavailable to them normally and the smart ones will resell them on the Alliance Auction House for between 5g and 10g. (Alliance prices based on The Venture Co Server experiences)

Finding these items, as well as the odd recipies sold by Vendors and re listing them on the Auction Houses are invaluable. They provide a regular revenue stream that, while small, help keep the numbers ticking over.

Never, ever trust Auctioneer completely. There are people who through ignorance or willfullness will poison the data set. You've seen the Linen Cloth on the Auction House for 50g? That is there to drive up the prices, so people who simply use Auctioneer without knowing the value of items get caught out by higher buy-out and resale prices. So, when you are listing something new check out what other people have paid for it. See what other identical / similar items are selling for. You might need to hang onto it for a few days before listing it. I typically aim for around a 5% undercut. Take it too high and you risk losing a lot of potential profit on the transaction.

This is where an understanding of the Auction listing pages will help. Items are, as far as I can tell, listed in order of the date they are posted. Each page is sorted by price by default. You can change the sort order by clicking the columns, but the cheapest items are listed at the top. Remember when I said people are lazy? This is the time to capitalize on that.
Tip: Make sure that your item is just cheap enough to be the first item on that page.

Market dominance is a fickle thing. I've never had the courage to try for something like this, simply because I don't need the massive sums of gold. (Free Warlock mount FTW!) The basic principle is this - by buying all of a particular item you can decide what the new price is. Within reason. For example, if you corner the market on say Copper Ore you can simply relist them all at a price that is a certain % higher than what you had. If people list above your price, theirs won't sell. If they undercut you, buy theirs and re list at your price. This feels like a very dangerous system to me, but kcma and others have used it to great effect.

Playing your main:
Typically I log into my bank alt for about 10 minutes at the start and at the end of each session I play my main for. Sure, that reduces the time spent on my main by around 20 minutes, but it means the time I play my main I am actually playing the character and enjoying the game, not worrying about money. A few last words of advice though. Do not bother with the Auction House on your main. Mail any drops back to your bank alt and use them for storage. They can handle it. Once you lose that worry about money, the game becomes a lot more fun and you will find that money and levels roll by.

Other than that, I hope this is of help to someone and I hope you all have fun playing this fabulous game!


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